The Scheel Center is located near a gang-run slum in Jocotenango, a troubled community bordering Antigua. Like the Dreamer Center School, the Scheel Center serves the area’s most disadvantaged and vulnerable students. Many of Scheel’s 150 students come from very troubled homes and backgrounds, escaping lives of drugs, prostitution, and gang violence to pursue a lifelong dream of education. The Scheel Center offers an accelerated elementary education for older-than-average students (some begin first grade at age 12 or 13) and a technical/vocational high school education. The Scheel Center also provides on-site dental care and psychological counseling.
Because of the unique background of the students at the Scheel Center, some of them will not be able to continue their academic pursuits after the 8th or 9th grade level, or they will at least need to secure a part time job in order to do so. In an effort to equip all our students for life after school, the following technical courses are currently being offered to students when they start their “basico” year. Each course’s objective is to prepare a student with the prerequisite knowledge and skill required to get a job in that field.
The technical training include:
The carpentry program at Scheel began in 2009. During the first few months of the program, both boys and girls were taught theory and took part in hands-on training. First, students built their own workbenches, then moved on to coat racks, painting frames and (most recently) study desks, which they will later be able to take home and use for their other studies. (Many of our students do not have any hard surface on which to do homework.) This course is taught by local business owner and expert carpenter Tomas Hernández.
The cooking class is a favorite amongst many of Scheel Center students. The cooking class focuses on: sanitary cooking practices, use and care of commercial grade cooking equipment, preparation of both basic and advanced entrees and desserts, and generally promoting a love for the culinary arts. Edna Súarez is the head of the kitchen and co-teaches this course with Ana Maria Trujillo.
Since 2009, Scheel Center students have had access to a computer lab to acquire the computer skills to prepare them to succeed in a high tech world. Computer courses cover: basic computer skills, typing, navigation of Windows, use of a word processor, use of a spreadsheet, accessing the Internet, using email, performing Internet searches, and the criteria for a reputable Internet source.
Each year, our schools turn away many prospective students because of limited space or geographical distance. When possible, The GOD’S CHILD Project provides these children a monthly scholarship to attend public school. Through scholarship incentives, students earn their educational assistance through good attendance and good grades. Students see their hard work pay off, and their families proudly support them in a venture that pays more than pennies and promises long-term rewards. The GOD’S CHILD Project is currently providing scholarships to over 900 children.
The Mothers’ Club is a women’s empowerment group that provides encouragement through weekly classes to over 500 Guatemalan women. Members of the Mother’s Club learn about everything from nutrition and health & wellness to self-esteem, spirituality and human rights. Mothers’ Club attendance is the ticket to collecting fresh produce in the Scheel Center’s Friday food distribution. For many women, this opportunity to learn, laugh and play together is their only break from the male-centered machismo culture that engulfs the rest of their lives.
The GOD’S CHILD Project has two dental clinics that provide care to children and families who would otherwise not dream of accessing such services. Clinic staff educates patients on the importance of oral hygiene and provides toothbrushes, toothpaste, floss and mouthwash when these donations are available.
Many of the children participating in our programs have suffered physical, emotional or sexual abuse, while others have been forced into labor or prostitution. The psychologist counsels those children and anyone requiring emotional or mental assistance in dealing with past or present situations. By working through their problems, participants have a better chance of completing their education and effectively breaking out of poverty. The psychologist also runs the Mothers’ Club.
Every Friday morning at the Scheel Center, mothers congregate to receive donations of fresh, local produce and dry goods. This ensures their families have nutritious meals for the coming week and helps offset food costs. To participate, women must simply attend their weekly Mothers’ Club meeting. Throughout the week, the donations department collects fresh produce and dry goods from restaurants, farms, plantations and farming cooperatives in Guatemala.
Our families are assigned a social worker, who conducts monthly home visits and serves as the bridge between families and The Project. We call them guias, which means “guides” in Spanish, because they are entrusted with the important task of guiding families down the road to breaking out of poverty. They do this by referring individuals to counseling and legal assistance, and encouraging them to take advantage of the support available through The Project. Families who have broken the chains of poverty remain with their guia, preventing relapse into poverty through unemployment, illness or other developments. The social work department also coordinates special programs like food distribution, clothing drives, disaster relief efforts, and our new solar energy program.
When disaster strikes, our staff and volunteers are never far behind. Whether responding to heavy spring flooding in North Dakota and Minnesota or landslides and hurricanes in Central America, communities rely on The GOD’S CHILD Project to be there in their darkest hour.
Sponsorship is a unique opportunity to connect and support one very special child. Sponsored children receive money for education costs, clothes, shoes, food and medical care every month. The families of sponsored children also benefit from access to a wide variety of GOD’S CHILD services. Currently, there are over 800 children being sponsored by almost 1,400 padrinos, or godparents. It costs US$150 to sponsor a child for a month. Many sponsors donate less than this, requiring multiple sponsors for each child in the program. Children maintain written contact with their sponsors, exchanging cards and holiday presents. Many GOD’S CHILD alumnae remain with their sponsors into adulthood, when they become fully self-supporting and request to be removed from the list…a proud moment for everyone involved.